THE correct title for this person of authority is the'' master "
of a ship, although many persons use the expression
" captain." The term captain is applied only as a courtesy
title, and is strictly a naval rank. All documents speak of
the master of the ship, and never refer to him in any other
manner or style.
His duties are many. He is in absolute charge of his
vessel, and in addition to being in control of his ship, may
bury people, act as a lawyer, a spiritual comforter, and when
there is no doctor on board his knowledge is usually sufficient
to allow him to act in that capacity. It has not been possible
to trace the right of a master to conduct marriages. This
would appear to be what might be described as legal fiction.
His authority is very extensive, and in the past was even
more so than at present. The major part of the control is now
vested in the marine superintendent and the shore staff
of the vessel.
Years ago when a vessel left her port of loading, she was
not heard of again by the owners until she returned, there
being no communciation by telephone, wireless or cable,
and consequently the master had to be entrusted with the
ship's business, and the ship's management, and his
authority was definitely extensive and gave him considerable
powers. Now, however, by the invention and introduction
of these methods of communication, the owners may advise
the master what to do, and where to go, may fix business at
one end of the world for ports at the other end, and they
have accordingly taken over the greater proportion of the
business which was formerly transacted by the master.
He is thus relieved of much of his past responsibility, and
it is usually found that when encountering matters of a
difficult nature he will cable or advise his owners and await